Entrepreneurs start their businesses for many reasons, some want to realize a dream, others want to help others, still there are some start their business with the vision of innovating on a product.
The desire to introduce more variety on the ubiquitous roasted peanut drove Josephine “Josie” See to start JM Peanut World almost two decades ago. With more than a dozen flavors to choose from, See offers consumers a smorgasbord of options on how to enjoy this classic Filipino snack item. At the same time, See managed to elevate the image of roasted nuts from a simple snack item peddled by ambulatory vendors to a modern, high end, and franchise business.
Like most entrepreneurs, See’s story begins with an entrepreneurial drive that manifested when she was a child. As a child, she described herself as being an ordinary student who was quite athletic playing volleyball. As a student, she recalls engaging in basic buy and sell business when she was in high school. However, her entrepreneurial activities went into hibernation when she went to college to take up optometry.
After college, she practiced optometry and took up a day job but at the back of her mind she continued to nurture her passion for entrepreneurship. She left her job when she got married to her husband See Tsz Kin in 1995. Following her marriage, she worked at her in law’s family's chestnut business where she would eventually encounter the spark of inspiration that would lead to Peanut World.
Having loved peanuts since she was young, See would buy peanuts from a vendor near her in law’s business. She eventually got bored of the four nut varieties the vendor offered; which was when she thought of the possibility of developing new peanut flavors. She realized that there must be other peanut lovers out there who would like to try new flavors and that she can establish her own business to cater to them.
She then spent the next year learning about how to cook peanuts and the peanut business in general. She also began to map out what flavors she will offer and engaged in numerous brainstorming sessions with her husband. Some of the varieties she formulated are the super garlic, adobo skinless, oven-baked, greaseless, and spicy, which would later become her best-sellers.
The next issue she sought to address was where to locate her business after much thought she decided on Ever Grand Central. At the time, she didn’t know the first thing in setting up in malls so she had to start from scratch literally. Fortunately one of the engineers at Ever Grand Central decided to help her in setting up her business.
As she was just starting out she had limited capital so to save money they took over a second hand cart left behind by a former tenant at Grand Central. She opened her first outlet with a start-up capital of less than P20,000 covering the P8,000 rent, P5,000 for the second-hand cart that she bought, and operating budget.
In the initial years of the business, See says she and her husband were very hands on with the business and did everything themselves. Their concept then called JM Nuts and Hot Castanas soon began to attract a following among the mall goers as well as the other tenants as well. This warm reception and their hands on approach was the key for their early success as they were able to get a lot of ideas on how to improve their products.
Apart from her wide assortment of flavors which were a hit among mall-goers another factor for her success was her adherence to offering good quality. She only used the best peanuts and experimented with cooking techniques to make the snacks healthier. One of her practices such as not reusing oil has helped extend her peanuts shelf life because using fresh oil helps prevent rancidity. They also refrain from using MSG. She also improved some of her business processes such as using weighing scales rather than the traditional “takal” system.
In time, See was able to expand her stores to seven outlets all located in malls by focusing on upgrading the image and quality of her roasted peanuts to elevate them far above their street food counterparts. She tried to set up at SM Malls but was put on the waiting list for nearly two years.
Later on she found out that the reason for this was at the time, the mall management felt that her business wasn’t unique enough and needed a clearer focus. As a result she streamlined her product line and changed the name to JM Peanut World to reveal her new focus on peanuts.
At the same time however, she began to notice a trend where in similar concepts that were founded much later than her business were expanding much faster than her. Later on she found out that most of these businesses were franchise operations which accounted for their rapid growth and expansion. While they have already received franchise offers before she was hesitant to accept them primarily because she was wary of concept piracy. However, after discussing the matter the couple decided to enter into franchising to better expand their business.
She then sought the services of Armando Bartolome acclaimed as the county’s Franchise Guru to help set up her franchise system. Working alongside Bartolome, she formally opened Peanut World for franchise in 2006. Since they started franchising, the company has grown significantly with an aggressive nationwide expansion program.
At around the same time, and at the urging of Bartolome, she joined the Association of Filipino Franchisers Incorporated (AFFI) in 2006. She became active in AFFI since she was able to gain much wisdom and advice from her fellow franchisors as well as the networking opportunity.
Being affiliated with AFFI she says also helps her business attract more franchisees as her membership adds credibility to her brand.
As she continues to grow her business, See is confident that by continuously innovating and keeping in touch with the pulse of the market Peanut World can soar to ever greater heights.
Learn more about Peanut World’s success story and the group’s franchising opportunities at the 15th Franchise and Business Expo from October 14 to 16 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. The event organized by the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) is expected to draw thousands of business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
GoodNewsPilipinas.com is the official online media partner of the Association of Filipino Franchisers’ 15th Franchise and Business Expo.